Friday, November 18, 2011

Highlighting dangers of citizen journalism, Utah mayor uses fake name to report on his city's "good news" | Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas


Todd A said...

I feel it's safe to say that Mayor Winder conducted himself as both a politician and a journalist in extremely unethical ways: creating a pseudonym to report under, ostensibly stealing someone's identity off of Google images, solidifying his fake i.d. with a forged Facebook page, and fabricating "good news" about his town - all in an effort to, by his own words, "restore balance in the Deseret News' coverage of my city."
But what does this situation say about the state of citizen journalism and its inherent perils? Was the Deseret News negligent in allowing citizen journalists to contribute stories to their newspaper without vetting them first?

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Pretty much nailed it: Just as grassroots organizations may actually be astroturf -- created by big money behind the scenes - just so citizen journalism can be bogus. Is there a system of any kind that can't be gamed?!? One more thing for my to-do list: Check what procedures news orgs have in place to prevent, or at least reduce, this sort of thing.

Rachelle said...

"He [Mayor Mike Winder] justifies the deception by arguing that staff cutbacks at the Deseret News had resulted in scaled-back coverage of positive stories about West Valley City, so he was attempting to fill in the void" - Jerre Wroble, CityWeekly

I don't know where Mayor Winder has been all his life, but he has obviously missed the memo: good news doesn't make the news! Don't blame everything on lay-offs.

On top of that, he took it upon himself to do something unethical (bad) to report (good) things... Todd listed all of Winder's unethical doings so I won't go into them again myself, but when these are the sort of things that people result to in getting "information" out, I'm a little bit frightened about the credibility of half the stuff out there; anyone can make a blog or a Facebook account under a fake name and rip off someone else's identity. At the same time though, that's not only unethical, it's against the law (identity theft!) I feel that the Deseret News organization shouldn't let average-joe writers contribute without doing a DECENT background check on them! And no, checking the journalist's Facebook account isn't enough.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

It seems the more sources we have producing yet more information, the less confidence we have in any of it. Call it gatekeeping or curating, responsible editing is what we (meaning I) desperately desire.